Pubdate: Tue, 13 Jul 2004
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2004 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Judge Told to Await High Court's Ruling on Medical Marijuana

The case of a Butte County man sentenced to 10 years in prison for
growing marijuana that he said was for himself and other patients was
put on hold by an appeals court Monday to await the U.S. Supreme
Court's verdict on federal authority over locally grown medical marijuana.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered a
federal judge in Sacramento to reconsider Bryan Epis' case after the
Supreme Court decides whether the federal ban on marijuana applies to
pot that is grown in the state and supplied without charge to patients
under California law.

The Supreme Court ruling, which involves two other patients from
Northern California, is due by June.

Epis, 37, could get a new trial if the high court decides that
Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce does not apply to
drugs grown and distributed noncommercially within a state in
compliance with state law.

His lawyer, Brenda Grantland, said Monday that she would renew her
request to free him on bail during his appeal and noted that Epis has
other challenges to his conviction that the appeals court has not yet

Epis of Chico was convicted by a jury in 2002 of conspiring to grow
more than 1,000 marijuana plants.

Epis has a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana for chronic back
and neck pain, and said the 458 plants that officers seized from his
basement in 1997 were for him and four other patients, who shared the

Federal prosecutors maintained that he ran a commercial

Epis' case is the first federal marijuana prosecution to reach the
appeals court since California voters approved Proposition 215, the
1996 initiative that legalized marijuana for medical use under state
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